As beneficiaries of a needs-based program for low-income households, Medicaid recipients may need financial assistance to help them address a variety of needs.
Common Types of Financial Assistance
Financial aid comes in many forms. Some programs pay the recipient directly, while others take over partial or full payments for a service or bill in the recipient’s name. Programs may offer onetime assistance or they may provide aid over the course of a predetermined eligibility period.
The eligibility criteria for each program is established by the government agency or private charity that manages it, but almost all programs will have income limits and some may have asset limits. Other lifestyle or employment requirements may factor into qualifying for assistance with each program.
Assistance services that focus on nutrition may provide meal-planning workshops and meals or provisions delivered directly to recipients or available for pickup. Each state participates in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which may also be referred to as the food stamp program. Recipients of SNAP receive a monthly stipend through an electronic benefit transfer card (or EBT card) for food-only purchases, but some states also provide seniors with monthly packages of food or coupons they can use at farmer’s markets.
Individuals with qualifying disabilities may receive assistance through work-related benefits with their company or local outreach programs. The Social Security Administration has two programs that offer financial aid to disabled recipients. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a payment determined by a recipient’s prior work history and the amount of work credits they’ve earned through income taxes. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) assists low-income adults and children who do not have sufficient work credits for SSDI payments.
Low-income students of any age may be able to receive assistance through their school, community or from public or private resources via grants, scholarships and loans. Some programs may have their own application, but many education providers will ask applicants to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to establish eligibility. This helps educators understand how much an applicant may be able to contribute to paying for their education.
Housing assistance may pay the costs of rent or utilities direction to the landlord or utility company in full or at a predetermined percentage. This may occur once or an applicant may be eligible to receive ongoing assistance. These programs are usually managed by the state through different county or city housing authorities, or through private charities that serve a small local area.
Each state uses taxes to fund unemployment insurance so that employees who have lost their job may still receive financial assistance until they are able to return to work. Eligibility for these funds may require recipients meet important criteria, such as showing they are actively searching for work each week. Other programs may provide unemployment assistance in the event a widespread incident, such as a large employer going out of business or a natural disaster destroying property.
Medicaid’s Relationship with Other Assistance Programs
In most cases, being a recipient of any Medicaid-related program will not disqualify you from receiving other types of aid. Assistance programs may even use your eligibility for Medicaid-related programs as a way to simplify the application process for their services. If you are a Medicare-Medicaid dual-eligible beneficiary who receives assistance through a Medicare Savings Program category, however, other assistance programs may treat this differently from full Medicaid eligibility.
If you receive Medicaid-related benefits but still have outstanding healthcare costs, it may be more difficult to receive financial aid to cover these costs. Discounts or free services at low-cost clinics may only be available to those who have no other healthcare assistance. These policies are different for every clinic in each location, which means you will need to verify your eligibility for services at any location you choose.